June has come and gone, and I have to say it’s been a weird one. Everything was growing so well in May and all of a sudden everything just stopped. For instance, my garlic was doing really well at the beginning of June, and I went down one day, to find they had gone yellow. I pulled them up the following day and left them to dry in the greenhouse
Last weekend marked the start of my potato harvest. I started to dig up my first early potatoes, just to see if they were ready yet. I was quite surprised by them actually, no slug damage and also a reasonable size. I dug a couple of more plants up this morning.
I’ve also started to harvest all my soft fruit. My raspberries and gooseberries have done extremely well this year. Most of them will be used to make a summer fruit jam. Yum.
Making nettle and comfrey fertiliser is something I do every year. It’s basically free fertiliser that doesn’t cost me a penny. I tend you use my comfrey fertiliser for my tomatoes and courgettes, and the nettles for everything else. They are both full of vital nutrients, and is something I recommend everyone should make.
Making nettle and comfrey fertiliser is extremely easy:
Get a bucket and fill it with either nettles or comfrey.
Fill the bucket with water but leave enough so it doesn’t overflow.
Every couple of days, give it a stir and after two-three weeks, it will be ready. Word of warning though, it will smell foul.
Filter out the mixture into another bucket to clear out the debris.
When you want to use it, dilute the liquid to one part nettle/comfrey to 10 parts water. The darker the liquid, the more you will need to dilute it.
At the moment, I’ve got a batch of each brewing. I reckon they need another week or so before they are ready to use
So at the beginning of May, I made a list of jobs that needed doing. I’m glad to say that I’ve got them all done and the plot is ready for summer.
The frame for my grapevine was strengthened using some metal poles that were kindly donated to me by another plot holder. My squash has been planted out with my sweetcorn to follow within the next couple of weeks, and finally the greenhouse was completely gutted and tidied.
In regards to my strawberry bed, I’ve decided to use water bottles with holes drilled into the bottom. I’ll simply fill the water bottles, place them on the soil and the water will trickle out through the day. Well thats the plan.
The only thing I’m struggling with at the moment is room for my sprouts, I simply haven’t got a spare bed for them. I think I’ll have to wait until my garlic has been lifted (only a couple of weeks away by the looks of them) and plant the sprouts in that bed.
I’ll leave you with a couple of photos I took yesterday.
I thought I had everything under control this year. The plot was tidy, I had my seeds ready and I completed all my winter projects. However, we are now in May and I’m wondering where the hell the year is going. April flew by for me, I was busy with various projects at work, and so I didn’t have a chance to spend much time down the plot.
I come to sow some seeds during the week but couldn’t find them anywhere on the plot. I’ve either thrown them out when cleaning the sheds or left them out and someone has pinched them. So instead of worrying and having to order seeds in, I’ve decided to buy most of my veg plants this year.
I suppose not having to look after tiny seedlings, allows me to get a few more jobs done before the task of daily watering and weeding starts in summer.
Sort out my grapevine – The frame I grow my grapevine up was badly damaged last autumn due to the strong winds. Although it’s no longer falling down, I still need to strengthen it before it’s too late.
Prepare the sweetcorn and squash bed – I’ve kinda forgotten about this bed. It needs weeding and a good tidy as it became a dumping ground over winter.
Tidy the greenhouse ready for my tomatoes
Needs doing – within the next couple of weeks
Sort out the strawberry bed – I grow my strawberries in a raised bed/vegtrug. I struggled to keep them watered last summer, so I want to sort out a proper irrigation system for them (even if I just use water bottles with holes in them to allow water to be slowly released throughout the day to help keep the soil damp)
I managed to get an hour down the plot this morning with the aim to plant out my remaining onions. I planted out a load of them at the beginning of April but I purposely didn’t plant out one tray, as I’ve had problems with birds pecking the tops off them. Fortunately, they’ve left them alone this year, so I should have a decent harvest from them come summer time.
I’ve been growing my onions from sets for years. I did try growing them from seed a couple of years ago, but germination was extremely poor, so I’ve grown them from sets ever since. I simply plant the sets into seed trays, grow them in the greenhouse until they are around 6 inches tall, and then move them to my cold frame for a month or two.
While having a walk around the plot, I noticed how much the weeds have grown since last weeks rain. Fortunately, my Oscillating Hoe made short work of them. If you haven’t got yourself an Oscillating Hoe, I highly recommend you get one, I find it a lot more effective at dealing with the weeds. It cuts the weeds beneath the soil level where they are most vulnerable.
I’m going to leave you with a photo of the plot looking from the shed.
Things have been a little hectic recently. I’ve had a lot of work on recently that’s taken most of my time up, so my time down the allotment has been rather limited. I’m hoping to get down there this bank holiday weekend as the list of jobs is piling up. That said, on Easter Sunday, myself and the other allotment committee members, held a volunteer morning followed by a BBQ in the afternoon.
For as long as I can remember, the allotment association has always held volunteer mornings a couple of times a year to help keep the communal areas nice and tidy. This was the first one we organised since been voted in as committee, so we wanted to get a lot done.
It was a great morning, we managed to get the portacabin painted, weeded the communal flower beds and also tidied around the compost bays. We had an excellent turn out too and everyone got stuck in.
The afternoon BBQ was a great success too. We had an egg hunt for the kids, egg painting competition and various raffles. I’m looking forward to our summer gathering.
I finished work early today to try and get down the plot for an hour. It felt nice to get down after work to be honest. My aim for today was to plant out my first early potatoes which I bought back in January from a local garden center, and like every single year, I cannot remember the variety. D’oh!!!!!
Most of the seed potatoes were either shrivelled up or really small. To be honest, I think I left them too long on the window sill and I should have really planted them a couple of weeks ago. Oh well.
I’ve still got my main crop of potatoes to plant out, which again, I can’t remember the variety (I do it all the time). These will go in within the next couple of weeks after I’ve finished preparing the bed.
While I was at it, I also planted out half my onion plants. I’ll give it a week before planting out the rest, the birds have a habit of pecking off the tops of the plants, so I don’t want to lose the entire crop. These were a bargain, 80 onion sets for £1 from a local DIY store back in January. I wish I picked up a couple of more bags to be honest. Oh well….
So last years growing season has come to an end, I harvested the last of my leeks this week. I’m a huge fan of leeks, sow at the beginning of the year, plant out when they are pencil thick and you can just leave them to themselves.
I wanted to do something simple with them, so I boiled the leeks until soft and served them with chicken and butter. Yum!!!!!
I popped down to the allotment this morning to feed the chickens and noticed signs of growth everywhere. It feels like spring is early this year, I hope we don’t get a really cold spell (Beast from the East last year).
I snapped a couple of photos while down there. Enjoy!
Yesterday I picked my first rhubarb of the year. This is the first time I’ve tried forcing rhubarb and after sampling some yesterday evening, it’ll be something I’ll be doing every year. It was extremely tender and sweet.
Forcing rhubarb is easy to do. All you need is a large pot, dustbin or you can even get Rhubarb Forcing Pots. I personally used an old dustbin. I simply covered the crown about 6 weeks ago, excluding all light and popped a couple of bricks over the dustbin to stop it blowing away.
I’ll harvest a couple of more stems over the next couple of weeks and then remove the dustbin to let the plant recover over the summer.